State officials have taken a 23-year-old horse away from its Pittston owners to investigate complaints that the animal has been neglected, two weeks after photos of the animal were shared on Facebook by more than 400 users of the website.

But the animal’s owners, Armand Cookson and Kelsey Radley, expressed frustration that they have not been able to reach any animal welfare officials over the last week to learn what happened to their gelding, Zin.

In interviews two weeks ago, Cookson and Radley also denied that they’re neglecting the animal. They said they’ve been feeding the horse more food than it usually eats, but that it appears to have a health problem that caused it to lose about 100 pounds over the last six months. They haven’t been able to diagnose the problem yet, they said.

State officials have taken custody of the bony chestnut, said Liam Hughes, director of the state’s Animal Welfare Program. They also took a mule that shared an enclosure with the horse and was in the care of Radley’s sister.

Hughes declined to explain why his agents took the two animals, where they’re staying or how long they’ll be in state custody, given that they’re the subjects of an ongoing investigation.

He cited a Maine statute that allows state humane agents to seize animals that are “disabled, diseased, dehydrated or malnourished” for up to 30 days of examination and observation, if a court authorizes the seizure.

At the end of that period, the person who has looked after the animals must submit a report to the court, which then can either dissolve the order or hold a hearing to determine the outcome of the case.

“We will basically find out if anybody neglected the animals, or if there are other reasons, medical or otherwise,” Hughes said. “That’s pretty much with any animals.”

On Friday, Cookson said he’s frustrated that state employees haven’t responded to his calls or provided any information about the horse since it was taken in the last week or so from their home on Wiscasset Road.

Two weeks ago, he and Radley also said that they were being bothered by people who took photos of the horse and fed it hay, while they were trying to keep it on a strict diet until they could diagnose its health problem.

To compensate for Zin’s weight loss, Radley said, she has been feeding the horse 8 quarts of high-protein feed per day.

Caitlin Daly, a veterinarian in Waldoboro, has confirmed that she had seen the horse before. But Daly did not return a subsequent phone call from the Kennebec Journal after Radley sent the veterinarian a text message giving her permission to speak with a reporter.

Kennebec Journal managing editor Scott Monroe contributed to this report.

Charles Eichacker can be contacted at 621-5642 or at:

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